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A Case of the Execution of Swedish Soldiers at the Market Square in Cracow (17th c.)



Creating a more complete image of our past requires cooperation among many branches of science. A joint effort by archaeologists, anthropologists and historians allowed us to establish the origin and cause of death of four individuals found in a layer dating to the early modern period ina medieval burial ground in the Market Square in Cracow. In the course of interdisciplinary analyses, it was found that the skeletons were the remains of four males aged between 30 and 50, who probably were soldiers of a Swedish garrison occupying Cracow in the mid-17th century. The finding was confirmed by archaeological evidence parts of protective codpieces (Lat.suspensus) and burial stratigraphy typical of this period) and specific changes in the skeletons attributable to warfare. At the same time, characteristic traumatic lesions of the cervical vertebrae and traces of binding of the upper and lower limbs indicate that the soldiers had been condemned to death by beheading. Historical sources confirm that Swedish soldiers were executed in Cracow's Market Square in 1657. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.